DAY 16, 16th June 1986
The day after the night before. The World Cup woke up to a new day and FIFA already considered themselves vindicated in their decision to revert to a knockout format for the second phase of the tournament. It was better than all the ‘fannying around of the second phase’ as Ron Atkinson so eloquently put it on commentary. The hosts had made it through to the last eight. Belgium and USSR had played out an all-time classic, which had many Europeans having to cope with a very late night.
Today was another potential classic. We had an all-South American clash and a repeat of the very first World Cup Final as Argentina took on Uruguay. But first it was everybody’s second team, Brazil up against Poland, top four finishers in two of the previous three World Cups.
Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, 45,000
BRAZIL (1) 4 (Socrates 30 pen, Josimar 55, Edinho 79, Careca 83 pen)
POLAND (0) 0
BRAZIL: Carlos; Josimar, Edinho, Júlio Cesar, Branco; Elzo, Alemão; Sócrates (Zico), Júnior; Müller (Silas),Careca
POLAND: Mlynarczyk; Przybys (Furtok), Ostrowski, Wöjcicki, Majewski; Karas, Tarasiewicz, Boniek; Urban (Zmuda), Dziekanowski, Smolarek
I think the way to describe Brazil in this World Cup so far was ‘efficient’. It was a bit of a comedown from the great team they were four years before, but nonetheless they’d won every game. No team had really been able to put them under pressure, so we didn’t know how they’d react if anyone ever did. Tele Santana named an unchanged side from the one which eased their way past Northern Ireland. This meant once again Zico was on the bench.
Poland’s World Cup had been patchy, but then so had the previous one. They began by being held to a draw by Morocco, but bounced back with a win over Portugal. Then they were blown away by England. Manager Antoni Piechniczek made several changes, with some surprises. Ryszard Tarasiewicz made his first World Cup appearance replacing the experienced Matysik. Kazimierz Przybys and Jan Karas made their first starts, having previously come on as substitutes in earlier matches. They were also missing Komornicki, who played all the group games, and Pawlak.
This was the fourth meeting between the two nations in the World Cup with Brazil only being successful once before, in 1978. It was the third time they’d met in the past four World Cups.
Poland came closest early on. Tarasiewicz played the ball into the area looking for Smolarek, who was marked by two defenders. All three players missed the ball, and so did the keeper but it bounced off the post. Smolarek managed to reach it and crossed it back but Carlos held onto it this time.
Poland were far more threatening in the early stages and hit the woodwork again a few minutes later. Brazil’s defending was looking frantic as the Poles kept putting the ball into the danger area. Boniek’s cross from the left was headed away but it came out to Karas who blasted it from 30 yards and it crashed against the bar.
Brazil eventually wrestled control and soon clicked into gear. Müller used his pace to beat a couple of defenders but couldn’t beat the keeper from a tight angle. It went out for a corner and in the play that followed, Socrates played Branco in down the left with an impudent backheel. The Brazilian left-back fired a shot in a way reminiscent of Carlos Alberto all those years ago, but it went just wide.
Then on the half-hour, more patient build-up from the Brazilians saw Müller find Junior in midfield. His clever pass through to Careca was effective enough for a Polish defender to barge the Brazilian striker to the ground. The referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.
Socrates took the responsibility. As with much of his play he used the minimum of effort for maximum effect. From two steps he put it high into the left-hand corner as the keeper went the other way. 1-0.
The Poles had to contend with a couple of long-range efforts but Carlos saved them comfortably and the two sides went into half-time with Brazil leading by a goal.
Ten minutes into the second period and Brazil lined up for a free-kick in a central position about 35 yards out. Edinho took it but blasted it straight at the wall. It was played out to Josimar on the right. He beat three defenders with close control, and from a tight angle he fired it past Mlynarczyk into the roof of the net. A stunning goal. It could’ve been Jairzinho rather than a right-back in only his second game for his country. And what a start to a career. Two caps, two stunning goals. 2-0.
This was the football many had hoped to see from Brazil and they really were feeling the rhythm.
Poland had a good chance not long after when they were awarded a free-kick about 20 yards out on the right of the area. Tarasiewicz took it and curled it left footed round the wall, but unfortunately for Poland it went just wide of the post too.
Brazil may not have had the quality midfield they had in Spain, but in Elzo and Junior they had players full of running. One instance saw Junior pick up the ball about 40 yards out. He had one thing on his mind and that was to run at the Polish defence. He got all the way into the area before anyone could get a challenge in, and the ball ran to Careca whose shot was saved by Mlynarczyk.
Four years before Poland had been slow to get going but a vintage performance from Boniek against Belgium ignited their tournament. This time round he’d shown glimpses of his skill. With 15 minutes to go he almost scored a spectacular goal. Dziekanowski crossed, left-footed, from the right and Boniek attempted an overhead kick which went just wide with Carlos well beaten.
Inevitably, though, the next goal was from Brazil. As Poland attacked Edinho thumped it clear downfield. Careca picked it up on the left and made his way towards the Polish area. He held the ball up long enough for Edinho to join him in attack. The Brazilian captain took it into the area, dummied the keeper and slotted it in. 3-0.
Zico made his second appearance of the tournament when he replaced Socrates, and into the final 10 minutes contributed to Brazil’s fourth goal. Careca sent him away clear on goal. As the keeper came out, Zico turned inside to get the ball on his left foot. The keeper brought him down and Brazil were awarded their second penalty.
There was some confusion over who would take it, with Socrates off the pitch. Careca came forward and scored, but it went off one post and just inside the other. 4-0.
The result was pretty comfortable for Brazil. They’d won every match without conceding a goal and this was the best they had played so far.
Estadio Cuahtémoc, Puebla, 26,000
ARGENTINA (1) 1 (Pasculli 42)
URUGUAY (0) 0
ARGENTINA: Pumpido; Brown, Garré, Cuciuffo, Ruggeri; Batista (Olarticoechea), Giusti, Maradona; Burruchaga, Pasculli, Valdano
URUGUAY: Álvez; Gutiérrez, Acevedo (Paz), Pereyra, Rivero; Francescoli, Bossio, Barrios, Santin; Cabrera (da Silva), Ramos
Argentina were looking a far more cohesive unit than we’d witnessed four years earlier. Many of the names were largely unknown to the wider world but they were kicking into gear. Unbeaten so far, they’d eased their way through the group stage. Carlos Bilardo made just one change from the team which beat Bulgaria. Claudio Borghi, who played in the previous two games, dropped to the bench and Pedro Pasculli, who played in their opening game, came in.
Uruguay began well when they lead West Germany for much of the game, but ended up with a point. Then came the game where they were torn apart by Denmark. They recovered to earn a draw against Scotland where they defended for much of the game. Now they would have to come out against Argentina and show what they could do. They’d been one of the most physical sides in this competition and many were looking forward to seeing a different side to their play.
Uruguay had one change forced on them as Jose Batista was banned after his sending off against Scotland. Bossio had played in the first two matches but sat out the Scotland game. He came back in and Rivero was in for his first ever World Cup appearance. The other player to miss out was Diogo.
These two countries had been playing each other for almost as long as England and Scotland had, but this was only the second time they’d met at a World Cup. That was in the very first World Cup Final when Uruguay won 4-2.
It was all Argentina from the kick-off with Álvez by far the busier of the keepers. Argentina’s best chance early came, predictably through the combination of Maradona and Valdano. Maradona sneaked in between two defenders and waited for Valdano to make his run. Maradona’s cross was perfect for Valdano to head it in. Or so we thought. Valdano managed to divert his header wide when it looked harder to miss.
Argentina then had a free-kick in a dangerous position 25 yards out, slightly to the right of centre. Maradona lined up to take it and curled it expertly over the wall but onto the crossbar. It was the type of play from him that Napoli fans would get used to in the coming years.
Burruchaga then floated a cross in from the left when he came short for a corner. Ruggeri got up unchallenged but his header went over.
It seemed inevitable Argentina would score, but few expected it to be so late in the half. A lovely passing move involving Burruchaga, Maradona and Batista saw the ball run to Valdano in the area. He couldn’t get it under control and it ran to Pasculli who slotted it past Álvez for the opening goal. It was an incisive move, and Argentina were looking dangerous. 1-0.
Uruguay had barely had a chance all half, but right at the break they managed to carve one out. Francescoli and Cabrera combined in the area but Cabrera hooked his shot wide.
Early in the second period Argentina had a glorious opportunity to go further ahead. Giusti found Maradona away down the right wing. He hurdled one challenge, then once into the area, slipped past another. He played it across the six yard box where Pasculli slid in. But the Lecce striker barely got a touch and it ran wide. Replays showed the ball bobbled just as it reached the Argentine but on first look it appeared to be a horrible miss.
Argentina were now playing their best football of the tournament. Maradona went on another mazy run from the halfway line, finding Pasculli on the left. He cut it back for Burruchaga, on the six yard line. He took one touch then poked the ball over the keeper, but Acevedo headed it off the line.
Maradona had a chance when Burruchaga, in the centre circle, sent him clear. But his shot was saved by Álvez.
Soon after they had the ball in the net. Maradona picked up the ball in his own half and surged forward, beating challenges on the way. He clipped it out to Valdano on the right. It was two against one in Argentina’s favour, but as Valdano charged into the area he should’ve played it square for his captain. He went for goal instead and the keeper got a hand to it. He was only able to take the sting out of the shot and the ball was falling to Maradona at the far post. Gutiérrez tried to get a foot in, but Maradona also got his in and turned it into the net. It was a clinical break, but ruined by the Italian referee who found some reason to rule it out. Even the replay struggled to discover what the referee was concerned about, but it remained at one-nil.
Uruguay were buoyed by the let-off and created two good chances. Paz had a left-foot shot fizzed across the goal and just wide. Then Cuciuffo failed to clear a through ball and da Silva had a shot from outside the area. Pumpido spilled it and Francescoli went in for the rebound. The keeper made the most of the challenge and it allowed the players to crowd round and jostle each other. This was great for Argentina as it took the sting out of the attack and wasted some more time.
There was still time for more drama. Maradona once again went on a run, beat a couple of players and played Pasculli away. He was clear and one-on-one with the keeper, but inexplicably as he tried to take it round him he just passed it into the keeper’s hands.
Pasculli appeared to leave a foot in as he went over the keeper. Álvez obviously thought so too and with the ball in his hands, he made it clear what he thought about it. He threw the ball downfield, then right at the edge of the screen we could see Álvez bending down and saying something to Pasculli. John Motson, on commentary, then informed us Pasculli punched Álvez. The officials didn’t see it.
The atmosphere on the pitch had turned sour and tackles were flying in. Maradona was hacked to the ground by Bossio as he shepherded the ball towards the corner flag.
Eventually the final whistle went and Argentina deservedly won as they were by far the better side. For Europeans, they looked on and said “well that’s South American football for you”. South Americans watched and said, “yes, that’s South American football. What’s the problem?”.
Argentina looked a strong contender from here on in.
So, four teams through to the Quarter-Finals. From tomorrow we start to find out who they will meet. First up is a fascinating clash between Italy and France. Italy have already had to meet the team whose World Cup crown they took in Spain, Argentina. Now they were up against the European Champions, France. The winners would meet Brazil.
Then we have the first African side into a second phase of a World Cup, Morocco against West Germany, runners-up four years before. The winners will meet the hosts, Mexico, in the Quarters.
Italy v France
Morocco v West Germany